In a room on Transformation Island, a small isle near Paradise Island, several worried men sat in a circle, while two beautiful blonde women talked. The first was the former Baroness Paula von Gunther, who had long ago become just Paula, chief scientist of the Amazons and devoted friend of Wonder Woman. The second one had a more demure appeal. Her name was Mala, and she was Wonder Woman’s best friend and the one in charge of Transformation Island’s rehabilitative program.
“Bringing Geri here was the best thing you could do,” Mala told the group of men. “We can work with her to calm her madness and find a light to lead her gradually out of the darkness of hatred and into the love of Aphrodite.”
“We do not promise anything, but we have seldom failed,” said Paula. “Dalma and Mavis being two exceptions.”
“I am fascinated by your Amazon therapies,” said a slender man in green, red, and black. He was Doctor Mid-Nite, alias Dr. Charles McNider.
“Keep telling Myra that that’s what fascinates you about the Amazons, Doc!” joked the Flash, alias Jay Garrick.
The Atom, alias Al Pratt, frowned. For once the situation was just too grim for the small man to joke about, even in an effort to boost spirits as the Flash’s comment had been meant.
Wildcat nodded. “Can you help us learn just what went wrong? I mean, could Geri have been possessed by that fiend, the Spirit King? He got me recently and would have loved getting his clutches around Terry’s kid!” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Justice Society of America: Ancient Evils: The Shadow War.]
“Doctor Fate says she was not possessed,” said Doctor Mid-Nite. “And the Spirit King was destroyed by Doctor Occult before this happened.”
“You know, it could’a been a creep like Ultra or the Thinker taking her over from afar!” offered Wildcat.
“No. She would be safe here from such broadcasts, and sadly enough she rages within her room even as we speak,” said Mala with sincere sorrow upon her flawless face.
“Ted, buddy, I think we’re going to have to face it: Geri is sick — mentally ill,” said the Flash. “She is a victim of her own disease, but nothing more. There isn’t always a guy in a costume behind every tragedy.”
Wildcat shrugged off his friend’s hand. “You don’t get it. She’s Terry’s daughter! That makes her like family to me — to Al, too! I feel like I should’a been there for her… done something to turn her around!”
The Atom piped up. “Exactly! I feel that as a teacher who spent many hours around kids, I should have seen some sign that she needed help. Ted and I spent a lot of time at the Sloane house over the years. Why couldn’t we see Geri as anything more than a sweet, talented girl with her dad’s potential and her mother’s looks?”
“My own daughter is with her now,” said Paula. “Perhaps Gerta can reach the woman behind all the hurt.”
Hawkman sat with his wife in their huge dining room. “Shiera, this business with Geri Sloane is worrying me a lot,” said Carter Hall after his mate of decades persuaded him to share his troubles.
Shiera Hall tossed back her auburn locks and rubbed his brawny shoulders. “Carter, what is it about the tragedy that haunts you so… other than the obvious sadness of seeing any friend’s child fall to such despair and madness?” said the former debutante.
“I-I told you about her claim?” said Carter hesitantly. “That Terry neglected her for his careers until he died and made her feel unwanted?”
“Yes,” said Shiera slowly as she began to read what troubled her loving husband and partner.
“Well, let’s be blunt. We neglected Hector. We spent time fighting crime or traveling the world hunting rare ancient finds, but how much honest-to-goodness parenting did we ever do? I mean, I know you were raised by servants while your folks did the idle rich jetsetters routine, but I had a good upbringing with hands-on parents who were there for me with love and not just money! Why didn’t I see my errors?”
“Hold it! Hold it!” said Shiera. “I’ll admit that I was a party girl without any real parental guidence for my early years, but I know you and I raised Hec right. He’s a hero who cares for others! He’s a scholar and a leader! You didn’t skip time with him for the Moose Club. You were saving the universe or two or more Earths with the JSA and JLA, for goodness’ sake!”
Carter nodded. “Still, we argue so much. He resents me for all I did instead of being with him. I guess Geri’s claims brought it all home to me.”
Shiera shook her head. “No, Carter. Hector had your same determined drive to do things his way, and he and you chose different methods, that’s all. He loves you, and you do not need to feel guilty for anything. Terry Sloane was not so perfect after all!”
Carter kissed her. “That is something I can’t agree about. The Terry I knew was practically perfect! So what went wrong with Geri?”
Silence filled the huge room as two parents sought answers that did not come.
Gerta von Gunther, a demure redhead, sat across from the pretty, red-haired Geri Sloane. She listened; she did not talk. She did not judge, but she listened. The woman across from her was lovely, young, athletic, and brilliant. Sadly enough, she was also insane.
“I understand that your mother was once a Nazi leader,” said Geri. “She fought Wonder Woman. She battled Johnny Thunder. Perhaps she even waged war upon my father, Mister Terrific. If so, she lost. It is that simple. The villain lost to the hero. Terry Sloane, Mister Terrific, always won. Does it hurt to be the child of a loser?”
“How did you know about my mother?” asked Gerta, startled out of her silence. “How did you even know who she was?”
Geri Sloane smiled with delight as her eyes brightened. She knew psychology, and she knew how to play with people. She smiled and explained, “I have a photographic memory. I read all about the Axis enemies of my noble parent and his brave, brave friends. So Paula must have been a terrible mother, hmmm?”
“No! She loved me!” said Gerta. “She was forced to serve the Nazi cause while I was held in Berlin by the S.S. She used her beauty, brains, wealth, and weapons to serve Hitler, but only because he held me. She repented and has served the Amazons for decades. Aphrodite herself gave her a pardon and altered her looks from what they once were as a sign of her new start.”
Geri laughed. “An Olympian makeover? How divine! Nails by Hermes, do doubt? That does explain how Paula and you both have the looks and youth of women my age. Tell me, the Amazons rejected all men. Is that truly fair? That women enjoy life and youth here in Paradise while good men age and die merely because of the gender with which they were born? I see nothing fair in that! Does your Aphrodite know she could be slapped with a discrimination suit?”
Gerta frowned as Geri laughed madly. “You miss my point. We live here out of the mercy of the Amazons. They forgave mother’s past and embraced us both as sisters. You can join us. Your crimes will be forgiven here.”
Geri interrupted her. “My crimes? My crimes? In a random world where there is no such thing as justice or injustice, then it follows there can be no right or wrong, no guilt or innocence, no good or bad. No one can be better than anyone else. No one can be worse. I suppose equality for all is in itself unfair, though, since why should those uniquely gifted beyond what others can do be held back, huh?”
She was ranting madly, and yet she held Gerta’s attention. She toyed with the shiny gold medal she wore around her neck and reflected light across its surface. “My father gave me this. It was one of the half-dozen Olympic gold medals he won while still a boy. See how the light hits it just so?” she cooed.
As Gerta’s eyes glazed over under the hypnotic effect of the reflection, Geri smiled. “You are not the woman your brilliant mother was!”
She walked for the door but ran directly into Wildcat and the Atom.
“Geri!” said Ted Grant. “Sit down, honey. We got to talk.”
“Uncle Ted! Uncle Al! How nice of you to visit. I fear Gerta is in a hypnotic trance. I guess hypnosis is a hobby of mine!” she laughed madly.
“Stop it!” shouted the Atom as he winced at the sound of Terry Sloane’s often-used modest phrase now twisted by his insane child.
Wildcat hated to see Terry’s daughter in the grip of the madness displayed before him now. He had trained the girl years before in boxing. He wondered at times if there was anyone left on Earth-Two whom he had not trained.
The Atom snapped at the woman. “Look, Geri, you’re wrong! Your dad loved you! Your mother still loves you and is worried sick over you. We cared about you, too. Let us understand what it is that drove you to such extremes.”
Geri said, “Oh, he loved me, all right! He just didn’t have the desire to train me since I was not a son.”
“Whoa, hold it!” said Wildcat. “I know for a fact that Terry taught you most of his skills when you were a child prodigy like he was! He took pains to teach and love you. The man was a natural mentor. He’d been inspiring kids ever since the 1940s! If we’re gonna speak bluntly, then you’re lying about your father and your childhood!”
Her eyes widened. She knew not to dismiss this man as a mere brawler, since her brilliant father had held Ted Grant in high regard. She knew he had been meant for academic success from a young age, due to his father’s intense desire that his boy make something out of himself and not fear life.
“You saw only what he wanted you to see,” she shrieked. “You and he started out at the same time and even met the JSA together. You did not see his neglect. I’ll go so far as to swear that he did not even see the way he neglected me. He was too wrapped up in his Fair Play mantra and his many pupils!”
“I saw him spend hours with you once at Calvin College’s physics lab, teaching you all he could,” said the Atom. “He was proud of you, and he was demonstrative of that, too!”
Geri smiled. “You lie so well! Tall tales from a little man! You can’t smooth this over. You can’t paint the perfect father out of a blank slate. I see now that you won’t believe me. Some justice here!”
“Look, little girl,” said Wildcat, “you committed crimes, and you’re only here to get better due to your father’s connections. If you don’t calm down and start talking sense, you’ll never see the light. Start at the beginning. We got all day.”
Geri smiled coldly. She could play with these men who so revered her father. It would be easy to use their passion for her own advantage. “Oh, Uncle Ted, I’m so confused!” she wept. Needless to say, acting was a talent of hers.
He held her near and glanced helplessly at Al Pratt. It was going to be a long night.
Paula and Mala sat huddled close together over the Magic Sphere while Doctor Mid-Nite watched intently.
“I am aware of how the sphere works, but what is it you hope to see?” asked Mid-Nite.
Mala said, “It’s standard technique here at Transformation Isle to examine the past of all the prisoners so we can better understand them and help them come to love and peace.”
“Many traumas do originate in childhood,” added Mid-Nite.
“That is true,” said Paula. “And that is why I have placed Geri’s personal items within easy reach here. She now wears only an Amazon tunic. Even the medal had to be removed after what she did to poor Gerta.”
The Magic Sphere showed the history of anything placed within it. It now depicted the recent past of the costume she had worn as Madame Mayhem, founder of the Anarchy Society of the World. Her careful planning played before them, as did the painful end of her mad scheme, when the JSA discovered her true identity.
“Can you go back now?” asked Mid-Nite. “When did she first go wrong? Ted says she was normal but gifted as a girl. He should know, too. Al and I agree from what we saw.”
“Then that is where we shall start,” said Paula. “Where did Geri Sloane go wrong?”